MIAMI - The Dartmouth women's basketball team led, 55-54, with 2:40 remaining, but host FIU sealed the game from the free throw line, going 9-of-9 down the stretch as the Big Green fell, 64-57, in non-conference action on Saturday (Dec. 15) evening.
FIU All-American, Jerica Coley, tied the game at 55 — the fourth tie of the game — with 2:40 remaining after nailing a pair from the charity stripe. With a layup on the next possession, FIU (5-4) took its first lead since the 9:04 mark en route to its third straight victory.
"It was a great game, we were still in the game with two minutes left," said Dartmouth head coach Chris Wielgus. "We made some errors down the stretch and some of that is maturity and experience. I was pleased with the effort, it was a great game and we were in it right to the very end. It's unfortunate that they are not getting rewarded for their efforts, but it will come down the stretch."
Sophomore forward Abbey Schmitt (Winnetka, Ill.) led a trio of Big Green players in double figures with 13 points. Kamala Thompson (Selden N.Y.) and Milica Toskovic (Santa Monica, Calif.) added 11 points each. Tia Dawson (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds for her first game with double-figure rebounds this season.
Dartmouth (1-8) gave the Panthers all they could handle throughout the game and led for 37 minutes. The Big Green shot 43.1 percent (25-of-58), their best shooting percentage of the season, and won the battle of the boards, 35-30.
The game was a tale of two halves as the Big Green were able to assert themselves in the first half, but the Panthers used 24 second-half points from Coley, including 10 from the free throw line, to steal the win.
Holding a 32-25 halftime lead, Dartmouth extended its lead to 42-31 with a 10-4 run out of the break highlighted by baskets from Schmitt and Thompson. The Panthers, who had trailed since the 18:33 mark of the first half, were able to get the Dartmouth lead to just four points, 44-40, at the 12:18 mark behind 12 points from Coley and Finda Mansare. From that point, Coley took over and scored the final nine points of the game.
Dartmouth's defense was key throughout the game but particularly in the first minutes as the Big Green forced the Panthers into four turnovers in the first four minutes. The teams battled back-and-forth through the opening minutes, but the Big Green were able to pull ahead, 20-14, at the 7:51 mark as a result of their defensive efforts as well as timely triples from Faziah Steen (Detroit, Mich.) and Toskovic.
FIU wouldn't go away and, behind eight points from Coley, closed the gap to three points at 22-19 with just under five minutes on the clock. Dartmouth had one more run in it sparked by a triple from Toskovic — her second of the half — and closed the half with a 10-3 run over the final 4:15 to take a 32-25 halftime lead.
"Our ability to defend them, especially in the first half, and get them down to late in the shot clock was key for a team that likes to shoot as quickly as they do," said Wielgus.
Aside from Toskovic's triple, the Dartmouth post players were crucial in the last four minutes of the first half. Schmitt and Dawson combined for seven of the Big Green's final 10 points of the half.
Schmitt's nine points led the Big Green offense while Dartmouth held a 21-12 edge on the glass and shot a season-high 48 percent (14-of-29) in the first frame.
Dartmouth will stay on the road as the team heads to Milwaukee, Wis., to take on Marquette on Thursday (Dec. 20). Tipoff between the Big Green and Golden Eagles is at 8 p.m. (ET) at Marquette's Al McGuire court.
Big Green Sidelines
Freshmen KT Martinez made her collegiate debut in tonight's contest ... Dartmouth and FIU met for the third time with all three meetings taking place in Miami. FIU leads the all-time series, 3-0, although the 2003 meeting between the teams was vacated due to NCAA sanctions, so the actual series record is 2-0 ... Dartmouth's halftime lead was the first halftime lead since the season opener at Bryant (Nov. 10) ... fell short of 10 points for just the third time this season.